WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Homeland Security has requested the Pentagon fund hundreds of miles of new and renovated barriers along the southern border this year to stop the flow of drugs.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell told Courthouse News on Friday that the Department of Defense received the request on Wednesday for the funding of about 270 miles of border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The requested construction of new barrier segments and updates to existing security along the border are intended to cease the flow of illicit substances between the two countries through several identified corridors.
These corridors, officials say, are in multiple states and include some urban areas of the U.S.
"The Department of Defense received a request from the Department of Homeland Security requesting DoD assistance in blocking up to 13 specific drug-smuggling corridors on federal land along the southern border of the United States,” Mitchell said in an emailed statement.
President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to wall up the southern border has been repeatedly met with strong resistance from Democratic lawmakers.
As the 2020 presidential election nears, Trump has begun to revisit his border-related rhetoric with heightened emphasis during recent rallies.
Some of the president’s requests for funding have been approved by the Defense Department, but many members of Congress have opposed Trump’s diversions of billions of dollars from military and counterdrug funding to the border projects.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and other lawmakers have accused the Trump administration of trying to "steal" $7.2 billion in counternarcotics and military construction money when reports that the administration was considering the request emerged earlier this week.
Defense Department officials, however, have not yet indicated how much the new counterdrug effort would cost.
According to Mitchell, the Pentagon is currently evaluating Homeland Security’s request. He said officials will make recommendations “in the near future” to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who will eventually make the final decision.
Esper has indicated that his department is willing to work with Homeland Security financially.
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